5 foods in your pantry that you didn’t know have added sugar

Reading nutrition labels for many of us involves looking at the calories, protein, fat, sodium, carbohydrate etc. Reading the ingredients list is something that is often overlooked as most of us tend to be more concerned with the nutritional value of the food versus what is actually in it. Over the past couple of years I have become more concerned with the ingredients list and less concerned with the macronutrient content. Foods with fewer ingredients, no artificial ingredients and no added sugars will automatically provide better nutrition as good nutrition comes from unprocessed, whole foods.

There are likely many foods lurking in your refrigerator and pantry that contain added sugars, dyes and other artificial ingredients that you may not be aware of. Today I wanted to highlight 5 foods you most likely have in your house, that contain added sugar that you probably don’t realize!

**When I got the idea for this post, I simply went into my own pantry and was easily able to pick five items. I consider my pantry/refrigerator to be on the healthier side, though this exercise has shown me I still have some work to do!

Salad Dressing

Honey mustard, french, thousand island…these are obvious offenders for added sugar content, as they actually taste sweet. But blue cheese and balsamic vinaigrette? Since these dressings do not taste sweet, you most likely wouldn’t presume there would be added sugar. Unfortunately, sugar is in the top ten ingredients in each of these dressings. It is also important to remember there are many different names for sugar (check out a comprehensive list here), so just because a label doesn’t explicitly list sugar as an ingredient, it can be hiding under another name, such as maltodextrin in this label.

sugar-blue cheese label sugar-viniagarette label

HBH Fix: Make your own dressings as we discussed here! Combining simple ingredients such as olive oil, balsamic vinegar, dijon mustard, cracked pepper is a surefire way to assure there are no artificial ingredients and added sugars in your salad dressings.


Sweet salsa? Yep, this was another surprise for me. To be fair, I also had a Trader Joes salsa in the refrigerator that didn’t contain any sugar, so this one could go either way. Many processed salsas will contain sugar, some more than others, so reading the label is the best way to find the most natural product with the fewest ingredients.

sugar-salsa label

HBH Fix: Make your own! Salsa is pretty easy to make if you have a blender or food processor. If you’re not into making your own, skim the label to look for added sugar. Many times, the fresh salsa and pico in the produce section will be sugar free and made with fresh ingredients. Organic products are also another place to start as many of these contain high quality ingredients with minimal artificial ingredients.


We all know canned soups contain a lot of salt, but sugar? The label on this “Garden Soup” even claims to be “All Natural, preservative free” and “Non GMO and No MSG”. At first glance, you would presume this to be just as good as homemade!

sugar-soup label

HBH Fix: You guessed it, make your own! Making soup may seem like a daunting task to some, though it doesn’t have to take a long time or a lot of skill to whip up a nutritious and delicious soup. This sweet potato chile is one of my favorites, and it is made in the crock pot which saves a lot of time. Again, if cooking isn’t your specialty look at the ingredients list and avoid added sugars and other artificial ingredients. As above, organic products would be a good place to start.


Homemade bread recipes likely call for sugar as it has a functional role in the cooking a baking process. I was surprised to see how many added sugars were in my “100% Whole Wheat Bread”. The label lists sugar, honey, molasses and raisin juice- four sources of added sugar seems a little excessive for a “non-sweet” whole wheat bread.

sugar-bread label

HBH fix: Homemade bread is a little more involved, so looking for a lower sugar alternative is probably your best bet! Kudos to those of you who make your own bread on the regular! Many sprouted wheat breads contain all natural ingredients with no sugar- these can often be found in the freezer section of the grocery store. Some of my favorites are the Central Market Organics brand for Texas folks, or Ezekiel bread which is available nationwide.


These seemingly harmless “Cracked Pepper and Olive Oil” Triscuits have sugar hiding under the name maltodextrin, which is also the third ingredient on the list of ten.

sugar-cracker label

HBH Fix: Scan the ingredients list and look for crackers without added sugars and fewer ingredients. One of my favorite crackers are these Trader Joes Pita crackers which contain mostly all natural ingredients.


I challenge you to go through your pantry and refrigerator and look for some of these processed foods with added ingredients and do your best to look for better alternatives next time around. Or even better, try a new recipe in place of buying the processed version!
Talk to us…what do you have in your refrigerator or pantry that you were shocked had sugar in it? Do you read labels? If so, what do you normally look at?

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  1. HBH Thank you for your post & heads up re: sugar content. I always check sodium/saturated fat levels in the foods that I buy, but those tortillas are down right scary with sneaky sugar additives! I will be looking at sugars from now on. The ingredients listed on a packet label is by order of quantity, so if sugar is listed first, then you always know that it has a more sugar than any other ingredient in the food product!

    • HealthyBites says:

      Hi Fiona, Yes saturated fat is another great thing to look at! You’re right in that the ingredients are listed in descending order! This is helpful especially if you are trying to limit/avoid certain things in your diet.


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